I’ve been writing off and on, mostly off the last few weeks. It’s been really rough as every day when I come home, I am still looking for Gracie. Last week, as I have done for years, I kept a portion of my steak off to the side for Gracie. Then it hit me, that she is no longer here. I’ll have to admit my eyes teared up a bit.
The writing I have done has been divided between three projects. My memoir, my sci-fi book and my character driven book. Three widely divergent genres. This is probably not a recipe for success as an author. Most authors write in one genre only. Very, very few write and are successful in multiple genres.
It’s the same problem I had when I was actively woodworking. I would work on multiple different projects. Once I had finished, I never wanted to go back to it again. I liked the challenge of doing new things. In my writing, it’s the same way. If you go back and look at my short stories, most are in different genres. Some worked, some didn’t. Rarely did I continue a character in multiple stories with the exception of Harry Gruen. Will I ever write another Harry story? Doubtful as I’m pretty bored with him already.
The one thing I that I do enjoy is writing short stories, but I’m having a hard time finding the enthusiasm to write any. Hopefully, I’ll start writing them again, but for now, I’ll work on my projects.
Success! I managed to write every day this last week. Fantastic writing? Not so much. Getting back into the groove of daily writing will mean some days are going to be meh. I tried a few different styles of writing this week. Mostly to expand my writing. Still haven’t really settled on one genre, but I’m thinking I’ll never be able to be pigeonholed that way. That can be a good thing but also a bad thing. Quite a few authors write in a distinctive style and genre and build up an audience. If they go out of the prescribed style, then it usually isn’t received as well. Building an audience with an eclectic writing style is pretty hard to do. I do love a challenge!
This week, not only am I planning on posting everyday, but also start editing. I’m still not a fan of editing, but it is a necessary evil. I do know if I ever hit it big with my writing, I’m definitely hiring a professional editor. To me that will be money well spent as it will save me hours and hours of going over a manuscript. I’d rather be writing than editing and revising.
Health wise, I’m doing pretty darn good. I have about 80-90% mobility back with my shoulder. My last physical therapy session was last Tuesday. I had been scheduled for 3 more weeks, but my shoulder has responded to the therapy very well. I’m doing daily exercises to get that last bit of mobility back. But found out that I’ll need to continue the exercises probably for the rest of my life to keep the shoulder from freezing up again.
I’m going to start with health news first. My frozen shoulder is thawing out nicely. I’ve been doing daily exercises that are painful, but have increased my range of motion tremendously. I still have a constant pain, but it is much less now. At least now I can sit and write without having to take a break every few minutes.
On to writing progress. This part I’m going to ramble a bit, so feel free to skip it. I’ve been reflecting why my writing has deteriorated since I stopped writing at the end of July. Before I stopped, I used to be able to sit and write a story in about twenty minutes. A few minutes of basic editing and I published. The words flowed and generally the stories were well written. Since I started back up, it has been a completely different story.
I’ve struggled to even come up with a story based on my weekly prompt. When I do have a small germ of an idea, I’ll write a paragraph or two and then go completely blank. The stories don’t flow and I’m not real happy with the quality. It takes me about two hours to come up with a semi-decent story. This has been extremely frustrating to me and part of the reason why I haven’t been able to restart the blog properly.
Last night I had an epiphany. It all makes sense now. I went back to my early stories from last year. Reading through them, the quality is not as good as it was this last spring and early summer. Granted, I was starting out and not as well versed in the art of writing. As I looked at more stories, I could see the progression. Steadily, they were getting better and better. Wow, who would have thought that practice makes perfect? Yes, I know, I’ve been preaching that since I started, but somehow I completely forgot.
My writing skills have become rusty and the only cure is to start over and just write. Quantity over quality right now. I need to trust the process. Instead of bemoaning the lost time, I need to remember always to “Suck it up”, “Deal with it” and “No sympathy”. In order to get back to where I was at, it’s going to require daily writings. More than likely the writings will be dreck at first, but as I get more comfortable with putting words to paper so to speak, the old creative juices will come back and also the quality will naturally increase.
One of the the things I’ve told my children and also others is 80% of the key to success is to show up and suit up. In other words, be there on time and ready to work. 15% is determination to be the best you can be and the other 5% is the talent that you bring to your endeavor. I have a talent for writing, but talent alone will not and cannot be all that there is. Without showing up and writing every day and having that will power to write no matter what, I’ll never get to the level that I was at.
Enough rambling for today. My progress this week is being restarted once again. I have another weekly prompt that I will be writing today. Yes, I’m going to be doubling and tripling the weekly prompts until I get caught up. The goal of 52 prompts in one year is still doable, but will take a lot of work.
Zero progress on writing this week. Time for reboot number two, or is it reboot number three?
According to my physical therapist, I’ve been making great progress. My mobility with my shoulder has improved. I’ve been doing the recommended exercises daily. After a pretty painful week and a severe lack of sleep, I can finally feel the progress. The last couple of nights I’ve been able to sleep throughout the night.
I’ve been seeing the physical therapist twice a week, but this week I’m going to drop it down to once a week. $50 co-pay each visit is a pretty hefty hit to the monthly budget.
I’ve pulled a prompt from the bowl of doom and have a few ideas on how to approach it. This evening, I’ll sit down and try to knock it out. Time’s a wasting on getting all my prompts done for the year. Meanwhile, I still have to do final edits on my memoir, but I’m putting that off until I can get caught up on the prompts. Priorities, right?
Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to go forward. This past month I’ve been focused on editing and revising. It’s become a chore. Yes, it advances me to my goal of being published, but detracts from the main reason I’m writing. Mainly, the joy of writing a story. Sometimes they are received well, other times they fall flat. Regardless, I enjoy writing each and every one of the stories. The more I write, the better the stories and more importantly the better the writing.
I looked back at some of my early writings and I cringe. What was I thinking? Some of them look like a total hack job. This shows me how far I’ve progressed. I’ve still got a ways to go. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. I’m not anywhere close to that number yet. I’ve yet to complete a novel. I’ll work on it in spurts, then something will come up to distract me from it. It takes a bit to get back into writing the novel.
I don’t expect my first novel to do well. Maybe my fourth or fifth. Just like writing short stories, it takes practice to write a novel that I will be proud of. Writing the novel is a major project. Editing my memoir is a major project. I’m not at the level of writing to be able to do both at the same time. I could edit and revise on certain days of the week and write the novel on other days, but it doesn’t quite work that way with me. I need to write on the novel for several days in order to get back up to speed. Once I stop writing, then I have to start the process over again.
I hope to do the final revising of the memoir this week. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. I’m not going to pressure myself. It will come when it needs to come. Meanwhile, I will post my weekly writing challenge tonight. It’s a hard one in that it could go several ways. I always have a problem with these type of prompts. So many ideas, but only one story. I could write multiple stories on the prompt, but I feel that would get repetitive and negate the purpose of the challenges.
I almost skipped the weekly progress report because it’s Mother’s day.
I wasn’t as productive in writing this week as I had hoped to be. I’m still struggling to find a consistent time to write every day. My energy levels are increasing and as a result, I find myself pushing to do more at work. This usually leaves me exhausted by the time I get home. Eventually things will balance out, but who knows how long that will take. I’m still getting hot flashes. I’ll go a day or two with a minor hot flash, then I’ll have a day where I’m experiencing multiple intense hot flashes.
I did knock one item off of my “To do” list for writing. Of course, it was the easiest to do.
Finish first draft of My Cancer Journey
Rewrite short story Lump
Rewrite short story The Curse
Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars
Setup Storylines page on this blog Completed
Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures
I plan on doing yardwork with Mrs. D today. I didn’t get to help her last year due to the Cancer treatments, so I’m slowly getting back into the landscaping. I do have to do my yearly maintenance on the in ground sprinkler system.
This upcoming week is all about finding balance in work and writing. My goal is to carve out at least a one hour period every day to write. Realistically, it needs to be the same time each day as I work better with routine.
The absolute best news I could get, I’m officially NED (No Evidence of Disease). I’ve been smiling all afternoon! It’s been a hell of a journey, one that I don’t want to do again. My emotions have been pushed, pulled, twisted, spindled and mutilated for the last year. It’s going to take a while to get used to the new paradigm of being CANCER FREE.
I’ll be getting bloodwork every three months for the next year or so to make sure that the Cancer does not return. I’m off hormonal therapy so my Testosterone should start rising in the next month or so. It will take about a year for it to get back to normal. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching my PSA to make sure it doesn’t rise past 5.0 or 6.0. If by some chance it does rise, then I’ll be going back on hormone therapy until my Testosterone is back to zero and then do radiation treatments.
Honestly, I don’t think the cancer will be coming back. I’m continuing on my FenBen protocol. What’s that, you ask? In the coming days, I’m going to be writing Part 3 of My Cancer Journey and showing exactly how I beat cancer. Once it is up, I’ll make sure to let everyone know.
My only dilemma now is the title of my blog. I may have to change it as I’m no longer “Writing with Cancer”. Maybe something like “Writing Cancer Free”? I don’t know, I’ll have to think on it. I’m open to suggestions as to what to change it to, or even if it should stay the same.
I thank everyone for their support in my trying times. The encouragement I got when I was down was invaluable. I thank also God for watching over me.
I feel like walking outside to the middle of the street and yelling:
My writing progress this last week not only circled the drain, but was power flushed down the toilet. I tried to write Tuesday and then gave up. From Wednesday thru Friday it was much easier to just not write and not feel guilty each day. Yes, I was exhausted, but that’s not a good excuse at all.
I know some bloggers write once a week or three times a week, but unfortunately that doesn’t work for me. I need to write each and every day otherwise I’ll quickly fall into not writing for days at a time. Then there are bloggers that post 4 or 5 times a day using the scheduling feature. Not going to happen here as I only used the scheduling thing once and when it didn’t post for some reason on time, I said “Pfft”.
My stated goal when I started this blog was to write every day. I’m going to try to get back to that even if it means that I just sit down and write a quick blurb of everything sucks today.
I did accomplish my weekly writing challenge. At first, I was thinking about writing a short story about how someone made a mistake and then overcame it, but realized that writing an essay was much better. Hey, it’s my weekly writing challenge and I can do whatever I feel like on it.
Just noticed that it is Daylight Savings day where the clocks skip ahead an hour. We are still officially in Winter and the clocks are shifting already? This is insane. I had planned to start planting the garden this weekend, but a cold front moved in yesterday and I woke up to near freezing temperatures. I’ll look ahead to next weekend to start planting.
My next appointment is this Wednesday and I’ll find out my fate scan results. Hopefully the doctor will also have an inkling of a clue as to what is happening to my liver. I’m expecting him to refer me to yet another specialist.
The last two nights, I slept a full seven hours each without having to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Then I took 3 naps of two hours each yesterday. Might take one or two today. Either way, I’m definitely taking it easy this weekend.
Kind of a weird week for writing. I attempted and completed a Six Sentence Story which is amazingly hard to do. I had quite a bit of trouble with my weekly prompt. I drew from the Bowl of Doom on Friday night and just could not come up with anything that was worth a damn. Finally, I just decided to go the easy route and write about my conversations with my inner voice. Learned that the style of writing is called metafiction. Who knew? I attempted to be humorous, but looking at it today, I see that it pretty much falls flat.
Even though it wasn’t a success, I did learn a few of things. One, I’m pretty terrible at writing a humor story. It may appeal to a select few, but my twisted humor is not that great. I also learned that I should probably draw from the bowl of doom on Thursday nights to give myself a bit of extra thinking time for these prompts. Seeing how on Fridays, I usually don’t post much of anything noteworthy and when I decide to skip a day of posting, it is usually on Fridays, I feel safe in getting that extra time for the weekly challenge.
The most important lesson I got from this exercise, is that I seem to be finding my niche. Looking back, the stories that really resonate are the ones where I emphasize feelings. In other words the angst of a character. Quite frankly I’m a bit surprised as I spent a huge chunk of my life trying to repress my own feelings. Maybe this is my way of letting out those feelings and that is why they seem so authentic.
I’m finding it hard to sit down and write lately. I believe it is because I’m a bit preoccupied with my upcoming scan and diagnosis. Which leads me to the Health update:
My PMSA scan to see where and if I have cancer has been postponed yet again. I’m now scheduled for March 7th. Seems that the radiation dose used for the scan is only made in Texas and California. As they have to overnight it, scheduling is iffy. I may get the scan in March, but it could be April before I get it. The not knowing is creating anxiety. From all indications, it should be a good scan, but I’ve been hit with bad news when I least expect it many times in my battle against prostrate cancer. In the back of my mind, I keep expecting it to be bad. When fighting cancer, it’s important to keep positive as it’s been documented numerous times that it does have an effect on the treatments. Damn hard to do.
I stopped doing the FenBen protocol last week as my blood draw showed my liver levels elevated. Each day, I’ve been getting a bit further in my day before I become exhausted. From experience, this tells me that my liver levels are returning to normal. I’m waiting until I know for sure that the levels are back to normal before resuming the FenBen. When I do resume, instead of taking it nightly, I’m going to do cycles of 3 days taking it and 4 days of not taking it each week.
My current plan is to discontinue the Lupron injections unless my scan comes back showing I have lots of cancer. I’m just about at the end of the 3 month cycle. The hot flashes are starting to decrease both in frequency and intensity. Last night was the first one in a very long time where I didn’t have an intense hot flash 5 or 10 minutes after laying down in bed.
Pretty good week for writing. By not picking my weekly prompt until Friday night, I was able to do some more creative writing. The Six Sentence story Redemption was pretty hard to do. First draft, I had 10 sentences, then cut it down to five and the story no longer made sense. Added 3 more sentences and then cut it down to six finally. Reworked several sentences and viola! I spent way more time on it than I thought I would. Great exercise. Turns out that story is now my highest viewed and most popular. Go figure.
Submitted my short story “The Curse” for the fourth time and in less than 48 hours it was rejected. Maybe fifth time is the charm? Submitted it last night and keeping fingers crossed as always.
I really need to get back to editing on my other stories in my queue, but I find myself drawn toward being creative right now and writing flash fiction pieces. I know there is a market for flash fiction, but for right now, I’ll stick with posting them here. Maybe later, I’ll start holding them for submitting. As tomorrow is Valentine’s day, I’m thinking of writing about the time I set the bar so high, I’ll never be able to match it again.
I have felt pretty run-down this last week. I’m still in a holding pattern as far as treatment until I get all my scans done. I am meeting with my urologist on Wednesday.
Yesterday I rototilled the new garden area. This is the first pass that is breaking up clumps of grass. In a week or so, I’ll do the second pass. I had to take a break half-way through, but managed to get enough energy to finish. Then I slept for a solid four hours afterwards.
I did get my new shoes. They are orthopedic and do help somewhat. I still have pains in my feet and at times my feet go numb. I may have a different problem but am loathe to address it right now with a doctor. I can’t take any painkillers right now as they affect my liver, so I just keep powering through the pain. Getting old sucks.